Falkland Island Landing - Stamp

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STRONGS LANDING – Postage stamps

Captain John Davis of the ‘Desire’ first sighted the Falkland Islands on 14th August 1592. The first landing on the Falkland of which we have certain knowledge was made on 27th January 1690 by the crew of the English ship ‘Welfare’ commanded by Captain John Strong. He named the sound ‘Falkland Sound’ after the first Lord of the Admiralty.

In 1688 Prince William of Orange, Stadhouder of the Netherlands invaded England with a small army and deposed the unpopular King James II. The Throne of England was offered to William and his wife Mary, James’ daughter.

William III was concerned about the growing power of France under the French King Louis XIV. England was drawn into a grand European coalition against France and the Nine Years War began in 1689. This war was seen as being in the true interest of the growing maritime power such as England by blocking French attempts at dominating commerce on the Continent.

In 1689 though, the English Navy was in a state of debt and disrepair and would need money and time to be restored to order. As the war against the enemy’s trade was considered as important as military victory, commissions (or letters of Marque) were issued to privateers. Privateers were privately owned merchant ships that had been armed and outfitted to prey on poorly armed merchantmen. Private armaments against French trade did not form a large part of the English war effort as such ventures could frequently be profitless and there was the danger of such vessels turning pirate.

In the opening stages of the war however, letters of Marque ordering “general Reprisal!’s” against the French were issued. One such letter was issued to Captain John Strong of the sloop Welfare of London, 270 tons and 38 guns. The investors in this venture planned that she should harass the French trade in the South Seas and on November 1st. 1689 she sailed from Plymouth for that purpose.

Strong was making for the Magellan Straits where he hoped to intercept French vessels. On Monday January 27th. 1690 land was sighted. Strong recorded in his log book that “this land doth show like a great many Islands it is a targe land and lyeth East & West nearest, there is several! keys that lye along the shore. We sent our boat on shore to one of them and they brought on board abundance of Pengwins and other fowl and seals…..”

The above account is the first recorded landing on what became known as the Falkland Islands but at that time were known in England as Hawkins Maiden-Land, named by Sir Richard Hawkins who sighted them in 1594.

Richard Simson who was on the Welfare also wrote an account of the ships visit:- “As for Hawkins Land, ’tis parted by a great sound which we past through…,The Sound inseverall places was so full of weeds that the ship could hardly make her way and if one might judge by appearance, there it was we sayled through a medow…”

There were several anxious moments as the ship which drew three fathoms of water grazed the bottom ” and the chanel being hard gravel gave a new but melancholy diversion to the ear, our sayling being for some time extreemly rugged and attended with a rattling like that of a hackney coach on the streets of London.”

On Wednesday the 29th January the Welfare which was proceeding down the sound, “Fawkland Sound” as Strong named it in honour of Anthony Carey Fifth Viscount Falkland, Treasurer of the Royal Navy, anchored in a harbour on the West side of the sound and according to Strong’s Log “sent our boats on shoar for fresh water and we did kill abundance of Geese and Ducks, but as for wood there is none. 30th. Thursday we rid at Anchor at this place filling of fresh water, there is a great many harbours in this Sound….”

Simson made similar comments about the Islands…. “The Island if it were not quite destitute of Wood would make a Noble plantation; it bears an English name, a good Harbage and a great variety of land and sea fowl.”

On February 1st. the Welfare cleared the Sound having sailed down its full length and set sail for the

Magellan Strait where several prizes were taken, but unfortunately not enough for when the Welfare returned to England after a voyage of twenty three months her owners lost £12,000, illustrating the gamble taken by privateers.

As a postscript to this account of the first landing on the Islands it should be noted that the Islands began to be used more frequently by English ships for reprovisioning during the wars of William and Mary and later of Queen Anne. Also the name “Falkland Sound” given by Strong was expanded when in 1708 Captain Woodes Rogers of the privateers “Duke and Duchess” called at the Islands, which Woodes Rogers named collectively “Falkland’s land”, today the Falkland Islands.